My first smartphone was an AT&T Galaxy S3. I had it for a few years, and really wore it out. It was a great phone, but even though I replaced the Android ROM with a custom version of Cyanogen mod, I certainly did decline over the last six months of use. For example, the battery would only last a few hours, and no amount of tweaking could make it any better. Even replacing the battery made no difference at all. I was always upset that we had to pay $200 for a phone that was already years old–and that even if I wanted, I could not switch to a different service provider without unlocking the device forcefully. As the S3 grew older, I lost patience and sought out a new phone: The OnePlus One.
So a few months ago I finally received my OnePlus One–the new challenger to a congested line of flagship smartphones. In a market so filled with competition, you would expect the manufacturers to constantly try to overpower and undercut one another–but for many reasons they are all able to survive when charging exorbitant amounts of money for the top-tier phones. Chinese manufacturer OnePlus seeks to gain a strong foothold in the market by using a unique invite system to closely match production with demand, and by saving money wherever possible while still maintaining a quality device.
I had my doubts at first, but now I am most certainly forever going to support OnePlus–as the OPO is the best and most affordable smartphone device that I have ever used. Even the packaging that the phone came in was outstanding, and completely pumped me up for when I finally unveiled the phone and plugged it in to charge. The box, the charger, and all default-themed accessories have this wonderful red-black-white color scheme that is both unique and eye-catching. The back of the phone is not slick, but rather has a slip-resistant matte black coating. The navigation and home buttons are all digital on the long 1080p screen, and on the sides of the phone there are just a few buttons for volume control and power on/off. The SIM card fits into a compartment on the side, rather than behind the battery, and the only speakers are the loudspeakers at the bottom of the phone, and the small phone receiver speaker at the top.
I am not going to go into detail about the phone’s performance, but it blows my S3 out of the water. There is absolutely no competition. Everything loads instantly, even games that have long loading screens on my friend’s phones. The 1080p screen is gorgeous and high-resolution photos taken with the camera are jaw-dropping. The camera can even take 720p slow motion video at 120fps, and apparently, if you use the camera app provided by OnePlus, you can use their special algorithms to digitally enhance the quality of your photos even more.
The specs are available on the OnePlus One store page (https://oneplus.net/oneplus-one) and I won’t reiterate them. But, let me admit that although I was at first upset about the lack of MicroSD slot, I now understand that 64GB is PLENTY–even for someone who downloads everything and takes countless pictures. Just make sure to delete old things every once and a while, and the 64GB will last forever. After just recently updating to Android 5.1.1, I used Antutu to benchmark the phone and I scored 48345 points overall. This ranks the OnePlus next to phones that cost $500-$700+, with the exception of the OnePlus Two–which, although may offer more bang for the buck, is still having lots of trouble being shipped out en masse… Otherwise, I might already have ordered one for myself.
Currently, my battery life is quite good. The phone is only a few months old and the battery life should stay strong and consistent for a while. If left completely idle, on power-saving mode, the phone may last as long as 30-40 hours. If it is being used regularly for phone, text, and internet, the battery life drops to 24 hours at best. If gaming non-stop, the battery life is likely no better than 6-8 hours. I do use Greenify and a few other apps to attempt to extend my battery life, but in the end I cannot complain about these hours, as my old S3 was only lasting 6 hours when completely idle.
Lastly, my OnePlus One came pre-loaded with Cyanogenmod OS. This is a custom version of Android that has many features and is entirely configurable to meet your needs. Many features, such as high-contrast text, LiveDisplay (which alters brightness and contrast based on time of day), and Sunlight-Adaptive Brightness are extremely helpful and really make this phone standout as having a clear, crisp picture that is easy to read in all environments. I also love how easy it is to change performance modes based on my needs; if I am going to play a game, I enable Performance mode and the processor works at full capacity to render the game, but if I am going to need the battery to be saved, I can enable Power-Saver Mode, which will underclock the processor and increase battery life.
All things considered, this is a phone that I expect to last a long time, and so far I am absolutely pleased with what it has to offer. I was hard-pressed to find complaints for this device, and many of the complaints that I could scrounge up are fixed or changed in the new OnePlus Two. Considering this device sells for nearly half of what the competition is going for, although it may lack some minor features, it stands out as the best value smartphone in the market. If you’re in the market for a smartphone that costs $150-250, you should save your money and buy the OnePlus One. If you’re in the market for a smartphone that costs well over $300, you should seriously consider saving your money and going with the OnePlus One. Use the extra money to buy yourself some good accessories, and especially, a good case. I use the TUDIA ULTRA OMINIX Case and it is really quite good for the money. I am sure that the OtterBox models are also fantastic, but at the time I bought my phone, there actually was not a single OtterBox available.